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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot Stuff from NYC

Please forgive the reference to the old Pace pecante sauce commercial -- I couldn't resist. Na Yeon Choi set the Blackwolf Run course on fire Saturday and, if she doesn't get ahead of herself today, could have an easy 18-hole walk to her first major. Her 65 tied the lowest third round ever shot in a U.S. Women's Open, but the wild part is that NYC is, well... a runt. She's 5' 5" tall but thin as a bamboo shoot. (I tried to find her weight listed and couldn't. Apparently she's so light that scales don't know she's there.)

I've decided to take a quick look at her swing today and try to help you understand why little NYC ripped up one of the longest U.S. Women's Open courses in USGA history. But I have an ulterior motive. Of course tomorrow I'll be doing the Limerick Summary...

But earlier in the week I received an email from Dmitri in Bali. Apparently a group of new golfers there is using my blog and books to help them learn to play. I'm always amazed at how people all over the world can read the same blog. (Apparently there aren't a lot of English-speaking golf teachers in Bali. So let me take a moment to say hi to all my readers in Bali!) Anyway, I'm going to be doing a couple of posts on Tuesday and Wednesday to deal with some questions Dmitri asked concerning pushes and push-slices... and I'll be referring back to NYC's swing.

So first, here's a look at Na Yeon swinging an iron. It's from late 2010, but her swing hasn't changed much except for getting better.

I feel that the most impressive point in her golf swing is at impact (that's the :13 point in the video) and I'll be coming back to that in the Tuesday post. But right now I'd like you to see how quiet her swing is. By that I mean that there's no excess movement when she swings back or when she swings through. If you drew a line from her heel straight through to the base of her skull, she stays right on that line all the way to the top of her backswing. (Her right hip is moving back away from the ball, but she doesn't move sideways.) There is no sliding sideways away from the ball or leaning backward. This puts her in a good position to start down.

Likewise, on the way down her movement is limited. It looks like she moves a lot as her weight shifts forward, but that's a little misleading. I'll be talking more about that Tuesday because I need to explain exactly why she looks like she's moving more than she really is. At any rate, take a look at how balanced she looks as she hits the ball. For now, if you just place your mouse pointer over the base of her neck at address -- if you place it where her collar buttons are, you'll be in front of her spine -- you'll see that her head doesn't move nearly as much as you might first think. That means she stays centered over the ball throughout her swing.

When you stay that steady over the ball, you're going to make good contact time after time after time. You're going to hit the ball at impact in the same direction you aimed it at address. It's that simple. Na Yeon outplayed everybody else at Blackwolf Run because she hit the ball where she was aiming it... and she hit it solidly in the wind.

Can she do that again today when the pressure's on? I don't know... but I bet the rest of the field hopes she can't. Because if she does, she might win by 10 or 12 strokes.


  1. Mike, your blog is definitely popular around the world - simple, honest & great! Keep up the good work!

    Also maybe you can give some advice & tips on how to fix pulled shots. It's killing my Par 3s.



  2. Coming tomorrow... ;-)

    And thanks again for the kind words, Ramzi. How are you driving the ball lately? Did you get fitted for a new driver yet?

  3. My driving has improved - good but not great. Have played 3 rounds without using my 3 wood. I've found a more suitable firmer shaft, matched with a more neutral faced 10.5 loft Ping G15 head

    It seems that a quick fix for my pull is a weak grip. What's your view on that - modern instruction just really hates the weak grip as the main culprit for slices, but to me its a saviour.

  4. I got mixed up on my comments, Ramzi. I'm doing pushes tomorrow, not pulls. But I think I can explain why the weak grip helps you stop pulling the ball.

    Bear in mind that I haven't seen your swing, so I'm guessing at what is happening based on what you've told me in the past.

    You've had some problems with coming over-the-top, so you're already swinging out-to-in and pulling the club across your body.

    Ben Hogan used to roll his forearms toward the target as he hit the ball, so he used a weak grip to keep them from closing the face so much. I don't know if you're rolling your forearms or not, but it's the same idea.

    When you use a weaker grip, you actually DO hit a slice. If you weren't pulling the shot to begin with, the ball WOULD slice. As it is, your open clubface just keeps the pulled shot from pulling as much as it normally would. Does that make sense?

    The fact that a firmer shaft helped your driving tells me a little about the problem. You've also told me that you're a pretty large guy and that you're inconsistent in your setup sometimes, so let's see if we can eliminate some other possible problems, one at a time. Let's start with setup.

    First question: Do you have the pulling problem with all of your clubs or just the driver?

    Second question: Where do you put the ball in your stance at address? Is that spot different for different clubs? (And yes, I'm looking for a pattern here. So if you pull some clubs and not others, we need to see how your setup is different.)

    Third question: How is your putting? Do you putt from a square stance, a closed stance, or an open stance? And where do you place the ball in your stance so you can putt it straight toward the hole?

    Your answers will help me start figuring out exactly what's happening during your swing, so make them as complete as you can. Send me an email if you need to, and I'll use it as the basis for a post as we try to figure things out. When we figure out why you're pulling the ball, maybe it'll help other players as well.

  5. Hi Mike, I've sent you an e-mail with an old video of my swing with all the info. Thanks again

  6. I got it, Ramzi. I've downloaded the video onto my computer and I'll take a look at it. Thanks for all the extra info you sent as well.

    Give me a few days to study it and see what I can learn from it. After I get done with the posts on pushing the ball, I'll do a post or two for you.